Полигинията в германската брачна традиция (някои аспекти на брачното поведение на меровингските крале) [Polygyny in Germanic Marriage Tradition (Some Aspects of the Matrimonial Behaviour of Merovingian Kings)]
Етнологията на границата на два века. Изследвания и материали, посветени на 60-годишния юбилей на доц. д-р Николай Колев. – В. Търново: УИ „Св. св. Кирил и Методий”, 2000, с. 205-215. ISBN 954 - 524 - 257 - 7
Elucidating the problem of the existence of polygyny in Germanic marriage tradition during the heathen period and the first centuries after the conversion to Christianity is of great importance for the defining of the main characteristics of the model of marriage relations, which functioned in the various Germanic communities. In this paper, on the basis of some aspects of the matrimonial behaviour of several kings belonging to the Merovingian dynasty, the place of polygyny in the Germanic marriage traditions from the 5th to the 7th century is studied.
The information from the source material suggests the conclusion that during the centuries before and immediately after the great migrations, among the Germanic peoples polygyny was not widely practiced. In this case, it was rather a question of existence of a practice, which was caused by certain circumstances, and under which a man could cohabit with several women at one and the same time but only one of them was recognized as his lawful wife according to Germanic traditions. A similar model of sexual relations was common for societies in which a group of dependent or semi-dependent people was formed and was easily replenished as a result of military campaigns in foreign territories or invasions of new lands. In such societies, sexual intercourse of free men with servant-girls and slave women from the households was something normal and the relations with some of those women of low social standing could develop into long-term cohabitations, which resembled the Roman concubinage.
On the other hand, at least during the time of Tacitus, high-born representatives of Germanic tribal aristocracy probably really practiced polygyny but society accepted this fact as a manifestation of social prestige and political power rather than as a standard in the system of marriage relations. This practice was preserved in the royal families and among the representatives of the high stratum of society at least for several generations after the conversion to Christianity.
In any case, however there should be talk of a set up and functioning monogamous marriage structure in the Germanic tribal societies in the time of Tacitus, as well as among the majority of the Germans during the first centuries after their conversion to Christianity. This structure involved the practicing of monogamous (possibly successive) marriages, on the one hand, as well as sexual relations and cohabitations of high-placed men with women of low social standing, on the other hand – relations and cohabitations, which were accepted by the society but were not regulated by the common law and in contrast to marriage did not lead to legal consequences for both parties.
polygyny, Franks, Merovingians, Frankish Kingdom.